The Trump Organization’s chief financial officer is now a felon. Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty on Thursday to 15 charges related to a yearslong scheme to avoid paying taxes on lavish company perks, like the lease on his Mercedes and payments for his Upper West Side apartment. He joins a growing list of felons in Donald Trump’s orbit, including his onetime co-worker Michael Cohen as well as Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn, among others.
When the office of Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg first charged Weisselberg with taking more than $1.7 million in untaxed compensation from the company last summer, it was reported that the prosecution was intended, in part, to make him flip on Donald Trump. (Last week, a judge refused to throw out the criminal case against the business after its attorneys argued in a February filing that the trial was politically motivated.) Instead, the 75-year-old longtime Trump family accountant pleaded not guilty and headed to trial.
It was the kind of loyalty that Trump has rewarded in the past, but this week, Weisselberg reached a plea deal that requires him to testify at the Trump Organization’s trial in October related to the same alleged tax scheme. Having the CFO describe under oath how the business avoided paying taxes is probably not going to be good for the corporate defense. The deal does not require him to cooperate in the criminal investigation of Trump, which has appeared to be dormant since the beginning of the year.
Of course, this is not the only legal trouble in Trump world. Setting aside criminal investigations such as the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago for classified materials, there is an ongoing civil investigation by New York into whether Trump illegally inflated the value of his assets to secure loans. Last week, Trump pleaded the Fifth close to 450 times while he was deposed by Attorney General Letitia James.